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Nassau: Teams advance in FIRST Robotics contest

Plainedge High School's robotics team, pictured here, took

Plainedge High School's robotics team, pictured here, took home the musical theme and regional chairman's awards last month at the 15th Annual Long Island Regional FIRST Robotics Competition. Photo Credit: PRMG / Hank Russell

It was showtime for local robotics teams last month as dozens of motorized creations came to life in a competition to be named the region's best.

More than 2,000 students from 50 high schools in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut gathered at the 15th annual Long Island Regional FIRST Robotics Competition at Hofstra University. FIRST is an acronym drawn from For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology.

Nassau County groups advancing to the national contest, being held this weekend in St. Louis, and their awards were: Team 884, the Mechanical Mules of Malverne High School, Regional Winner No. 1; and Team 527, the Dragons of Plainedge High School, who won the musical theme and regional chairman's awards.

The competition challenged teams to design, program and build robots over a six-week period using a kit of parts. This year's theme -- "Aerial Assist" -- called for three-team alliances to craft machines that could shoot balls into goals during a 2 1/2-minute match.

"All teams demonstrated tremendous teamwork, gracious professionalism and critical thinking, but the winners went above and beyond to overcome the challenges of the competition," said Joani Madarash, executive director of the School-Business Partnerships of Long Island, the event's sponsor.

Nassau County's other winning teams and their awards were: Team 3950, North Shore High School, Rockwell Automation Innovation in Control Award; Team 2638, Rebels of Great Neck South High School, Chrysler Team Spirit and Underwriters Laboratories Industrial Safety awards; and Team 1468, J-Birds of Hicksville High School, Regional Finalist No. 2.



NYC robotics

A robotics team from Plainview-Old Bethpage JFK High School, Team 353 POBots, was the only Long Island team to win an award in the 14th annual NYC FIRST Celebration.

The team received the Regional Chairman's Award in the three-day competition, held earlier this month at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in Manhattan.

The event attracted more than 200 international teams and was billed as a "mega competition" because it combined teams from three programs -- the FIRST Robotics Competition, the FIRST LEGO League and the Junior FIRST LEGO League.



New principal

Marie Pisicchio has been appointed principal of Mandalay Elementary School effective July 1. She will replace Lynne D'Agostino, who will retire at the end of the school year.

Pisicchio has served the past seven years as the K-12 supervisor of math for the Wantagh school district.



Quill Awards

Nassau County high school students were first-place winners in 11 of 14 categories in the Quill Awards at Adelphi University's 2014 Press Day.

The event last month honored the teenagers' achievements in journalism. More than 250 entries were received from 27 schools across Long Island.

First-place winners from high schools in Nassau and their categories were: Horizon of Lynbrook High School, most outstanding newspaper; JerEcho of Jericho High School, best online paper; The Chieftain of Sewanhaka High School, best page-one layout; Gabby Morales of Glen Cove High School, best illustration/cartoon; Taylor Kang of Jericho High School, best arts review; Chloe Shakin and Amanda Ritter of Jericho High School, best feature article; Rachel Hoffman, Taylor Kang and Alanna Levine of Jericho High School, best news article; Givilia Milana and Malti Rose Shaker of Jericho High School, best online writing; Skyler Kessler of Lynbrook High School, best photograph; Navi Arenja of W. Tresper Clarke High School in Westbury, best opinion piece; and Dan Parker of Wantagh High School, most outstanding reporter.



Financial literacy

Eight Long Island high schools were named to a second annual list of the 100 Best High Schools Teaching Personal Finance by Working in Support of Education (w!se), a nonprofit that promotes financial literacy.

Plainview-Old Bethpage JFK High School, at No. 25, was Long Island's highest-ranked school. Other local schools listed were George W. Hewlett High School, Herricks High School, Roslyn High School, Sachem North High School in Lake Ronkonkoma, Smithtown High School West, Southold High School and Wellington C. Mepham High School in North Bellmore.

The rankings, released last month, are partly based on students' results in a certification test that assesses financial understanding upon graduation.

"It is imperative that all students receive personal financial education before they graduate high school, so they have the knowledge and skills to help break the cycle of poverty, make wise financial decisions and be on a path to financial well-being," said Phyllis Frankfort, w!se's president and CEO.

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